Missouri, Kansas Officials Weigh In On President Trump's Meeting With Vladimir Putin
Update: This article has been updated to include Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's comment after President Trump's remarks on Tuesday.
The reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump's Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin from both Republicans and Democrats has been largely, although not exclusively, negative. The same goes for members of and candidates for Congress from the Kansas and Missouri sides of the metro area. Here's what some of them are saying:
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
McCaskill, a Democract, has been the most vocal in her disapproval of the president's actions in Helsinki. In a statement, McCaskill — the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — said Trump's comments at the press conference "fly in the face" of the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies and Congress. "Today's actions will only embolden the enemies of our country and erode the support of our allies," McCaskill said.
McCaskill faces a tough re-election challenge this year as a Democrat in a state where Republicans hold almost all statewide elected offices and a majority in both chambers of the General Assembly. The front-runner for the Republican nomination in the race, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, has Trump's endorsement. The Springfield News-Leader reports a spokesperson for Hawley brought up Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton when asked about the summit. She said Democrats should "move on."
However, on Tuesday, after Trump attempted to walk back one of his more controversial statements by saying he misspoke when he said he didn’t see any reason Russia would interfere with a U.S. election, Hawley’s campaign also reversed its stance. A spokesperson for Hawley said Russia “has been trying to meddle in our democracy for years.”
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Moran was part of a delegation of Congressional Republicans who visited Russia ahead of the Helsinki summit. In a statement, he praised Trump's "dialogue and diplomacy," but was otherwise critical of the president.
Moran also appeared on Fox News' "Special Report" segment last night reporting on the summit and ensuing press conference. His words there echoed his statement on Twitter. Moran claims he made clear when he was in Moscow that Russian interference in U.S. elections would not be tolerated.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Blunt called Putin a "calculating adversary" in a statement, and said there is "no doubt" Russia tried to interfere in the U.S. election. "Vladimir Putin is not an ally of the United States," Blunt said. "We must make clear that we will not tolerate Russian aggression against the United States or our allies."
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Roberts was also critical of Trump in a brief statement on Twitter, calling Russia a "dangerous adversary."
Russia remains a threat to our national security. Our Intelligence Community has proven Russia attempted to interfere with our elections. We have to remain vigilant when dealing with this dangerous adversary.— Senator Pat Roberts (@SenPatRoberts) July 16, 2018
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
Cleaver, a Democrat from Kansas City, is a frequent critic of both Trump and Russia. He responded negatively — and graphically — to the summit in a series of tweets.
There are no words to describe what we just witnessed from @POTUS during his press conference with Putin. If this was how the president treated Putin when the whole world was watching, I can only imagine what was said while they were alone. #TrumpPutinSummit— Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (@repcleaver) July 16, 2018
The saddest thing about the #TrumpPutinSummit in Helsinki is that the knife in our nation's back didn't come from Putin.
— Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (@repcleaver) July 16, 2018
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS)
Yoder, who has more than half a dozen Democrats vying to challenge him for his 3rd District seat in November, said he stands by the U.S. intelligence community's assessment of Russian interference in the election.
“I trust our intelligence community and do believe that Russians have attempted to interfere in elections here and around the globe," Yoder said in a statement. "It’s why I voted for bipartisan sanctions on Russian officials that the President signed into law and continue to support efforts by the DOJ to hold Russian bad actors accountable.”
Nicolas Telep is KCUR's morning news intern. You can follow him on Twitter @NDTelep.